At the Mercy of Budget Cuts: AmeriCorps

WHAT IT IS

  • President Trump is looking to eliminate 62 agencies and programs through his first budget proposal.
  • AmeriCorps train individuals to help provide educational, health, environmental, economic, and veteran assistance to U.S. communities in need.
  • AmeriCorps assists 11,000 schools, many in underserved, impoverished areas.
  • AmeriCorps is one of the components of the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS).

WHY IT MATTERS

AmeriCorps is an immediate post-graduate employment option, as a significant number of workers are 18-to-25 years old and recent college graduates. Employees receive a stipend, health care, and assistance in paying back student loans. Public schools in low-income, inner-city neighborhoods survive on AmeriCorps members to stay within budgets and improve their quality of education.

  • THE EXECUTIVE BRANCH – “Defense and Infrastructure”

    • Deficit reduction: With the proposed program cuts, the savings would total about $2.5 billion, with $1 billion of that devoted to CNCS.
    • Hard defense: The proposed budget is funneling spending to defense and infrastructure.
  • THE OPPORTUNISTS – “It’s a value and an opportunity”

    • Social benefits: AmeriCorps programs have employed 80,000 people annually for each of the last few years, giving an opportunity to thousands of recent college graduates.
    • Drop in the bucket: The government is projected to spend $4 trillion this year; $1 billion budgeted for CNCS is 0.03 percent of the budget.
    • Reach: AmeriCorps programs teach thousands of students, help them apply for college, and assist members in pursuing careers in various fields once their time with the program ends.

WHERE WE ARE NOW

  • A group of influential Republicans recently wrote a letter to President Trump stressing the importance of AmeriCorps.
  • Proposed budget needs to pass through congressional committees in both the House and Senate before written into law.
  • Other cuts include the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the Office of National Drug Control Policy, the National Endowment for the Arts and Humanities.
  • There are currently 80,000 working AmeriCorps members, both within the main organization and through its programs such as City Year and Teach for America.

THINGS TO CONSIDER

  • AmeriCorps also helps students pay off their loans, a necessity in an era of crippling student loan debt.
  • Is it fair to remove AmeriCorps from schools that need it most, even if it is to help balance government spending?